Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips

Robert Thomson
Columnist October 29, 2011
Chain Bridge

The District Department of Transportation says the rehabilitation work that led to several weekend closings of Chain Bridge is substantially done. The department does not anticipate any further weekend closings for this project.

The contractor does expect to close single lanes at off-peak times to complete the work.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region. View Archive
Farragut Metro transfers

Metrorail riders who want to switch between lines at the Farragut North and Farragut West stations in downtown Washington no longer have to pay a separate fare, as long as they are using SmarTrip cards.

This virtual tunnel, which Metro has dubbed the Farragut Crossing, allows free transfers between the Blue and Orange lines at Farragut West and the Red Line at Farragut North. Just remember it’s a virtual tunnel. You still have to get out and walk between the stations. Riders have 30 minutes to make the free switch between stations.

A Safe trick-or-treat

Monday is Halloween. The days are growing shorter, and plenty of children will be out after dark. These safety tips are from the Maryland State Highway Administration:

Drivers, stop for pedestrians; speeding makes it more difficult to stop unexpectedly; be especially cautious during peak trick-or-treating hours between 4 and 9 p.m.; enter and exit driveways slowly; be alert for children darting across the street or crossing between parked cars.

Pedestrians, look left, right and left again before crossing the street; cross at crosswalks or intersections; avoid dark clothing; and use reflective devices such as vests and blinking lights; avoid costumes that may impair vision; make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets; watch for speeding cars.

Metro at Braddock Road

Crews are scheduled to do weekday track work near the Braddock Road station, where Metro needs to replace worn ties and upgrade the surface under the rails. The work will be done at midday Mondays through Fridays for the next three weeks, starting Monday. (This Tuesday will be skipped because a statue of Ronald Reagan will be unveiled in a ceremony from 11 a.m. to noon at Reagan National Airport.)

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the workdays, trains will share a single track between Braddock Road and National Airport. Yellow Line trains will operate every 18 minutes between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square. Riders between Mount Vernon Square and Fort Totten should use Green Line trains.

Blue Line trains are scheduled to operate every 18 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and Largo Town Center.

Maryland tolls rising

The fee increases on Maryland’s bridges and tunnels are set to take effect Tuesday. On the Bay Bridge, for example, the toll goes from $2.50 to $4. On the Nice Bridge (Route 301) in Southern Maryland, it goes from $3 to $4. Tolls on both bridges will rise again in July 2013 to $6.

There’s a change in tolling on the Intercounty Connector, but it affects only those drivers who don’t use an E-ZPass transponder.

Those who get a bill based on a video recording of their license plate number will see that the $3 Notice of Toll Due fee is replaced with a video toll rate that is 11 / 2 times the toll.

E-ZPass break

Many drivers were upset when the Maryland Transportation Authority, the operator of those toll facilities, imposed a $1.50-per-month administrative fee on Maryland’s E-ZPass accounts.

So they will be interested in another change that starts Tuesday: The monthly account fee will be waived for accounts used to pay three or more tolls in the previous month in Maryland.

For example, if a driver uses the Intercounty Connector three times in November, the fee waiver will be reflected in the driver’s December account statement.

For more transportation news, visit washingtonpost.com/transportation.

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